As an old Maiden fan and a somewhat new Dream Theater fan, there was no way I was going to miss a concert where both bands were performing on the same show. Although I felt it was a bit weird as Dream Theater could most probably fill the Bell Center on their own, this is one combo I didn’t want to miss.
It was also cool as my youngest daughter came along. It reminded me of my youth, as I had the same age (14) as her when I saw my first Maiden concert back in 1983, the World Piece Tour. Some old buddies were also there, and it was great to see them.
As expected, Dream Theater only had half a stage to do their performance, like every opening act. Not a big deal because from what I have seen from previous DT shows, they are not a highly visual band (I saw the Live in Budokan show on DVD). Who cares, as the show is called Portnoy and Petrucci. And we were not disappointed.
Right on the second minute of the first song, the sound cut off due to a technical issue. While searching who’s the idiot that walked on a wire was, Portnoy started entertaining us with is drums. Amazing that an “unmiced” drum can be heard all over the arena! As the delay was longer and longer, Mike then started playing Run to the Hills, having us sing and cheer. Very well done mister Portnoy, and what an amazing idea to keep us busy. And then, the bass drum came back to life. Wow… People screamed like crazy and the show started again.
The set list was basically tracks taken from their greatest hits (As I am, pull me under) and a very few songs from the last 2 albums. I would have liked more new songs, as I am more familiar with the last 2 CDs, but then again, I would have liked a full 3 hours of Dream Theater. Still, they played “A Rite of Passage” and my daughter really enjoyed this one (it’s one of the very few DT songs she has on her iPod!). The guys were amazing, right on, and in great shape although it was a very hot day in Montreal. We had an impressive moment where Petrucci and Rudess were both together playing a very complex musical part, and seeing them side by side like this was just amazing. That sequence was the highlight of the DT show for me.
They had a great ovation once the show was over. I think that people really enjoyed and by talking to some of my “neighbors”, some knew DT and some didn’t, but all appreciated the music. But now, with the song “Doctor Doctor” playing fairly loud, we knew the Maiden show was about to begin.
First funny feeling is that this was a show for an album that isn’t out yet. The final Frontier comes out August 17th in Canada, and yet the tour was already under way. If you are a Maiden fan, then you are most probably on the mailing list and you were able to download the first single, “El Dorado”. I sure did, and I was glad to as the song was in the set list.
Bruce made clear early in the show that this show was about the latest albums, up to Brave New World, and a few old songs. This is somewhat interesting, as it seems Maiden are looking forward, not too much in the past. Yes, there are classics, but I mean they have been around for so long, and they have done shows about the early years and mid career that it was OK to focus on newer material. They could play for 4 hours and fans wouldn’t still have enough!
Bruce also asked who was at their first Maiden show. Surprisingly, a lot of people yelled, my daughter included. Bruce then welcomed them to the Iron Maiden family. And all of this was done in a very good French, getting more respect from the “newbies”. I’m sure newer fans know the newer albums, just like me and Dream Theater, so it kind of put more light on the set list they had for that tour. I guess they are planning to outlast Kiss!!!
I almost forgot, but Bruce payed a tribute to Ronnie James Dio. It was a very intense moment, as all the crowd raised their hands doing the devil’s horns, classic Dio gesture, paying respect to the man and his career. I’m pretty sure that at least half the crowd knew Dio’s music, as his career was so long, and he was the opening act on the last Maiden tour. One more addition to the “why I love Mainden so much” column: so much respect.
Small disappointment though with special effects. Or the lack of, that is. I am used to some flames, fireworks and drums being lifted on an hydraulic platform to show a big Eddie underneath Nicko. I accidentally saw pictures of the set on the Internet showing a futuristic scenery, and Nicko up in the aire, with Eddie’s face under the drums, and hands showing at the ends of each sidewalks, just like the “Somewhere on Tour show” (see Stranger in a strange land video). But we’ve seen none of that in Montreal. Was it the heat, a missing truck, I don’t know. The fact remains that I was expecting a bit more.
But we did get the giant walking Eddie on the stage. Now looking more like a Terminator, he was pretty cool as his fingers were very “mobile” and he can be equipped with a real guitar, jamming with the rest of the boys in the song where he always appear, Iron Maiden. He also had a camera on his head, making us see his POV on the big screens. Nice to see how he’s looking down on Jannick Gers when fighting him off!!!
So, as always, a very entertaining night with Iron Maiden. A bite more cool than usual, as the opening act was really great (mind you, they had Dio as opener on the last tour and they also had Rob Halford on the Brave New World tour) and my daughter being there. My buddy Vinnie, who initially bought the tickets a while back, when I was still working, was really kind and gave me an almost indefinite period to pay him back. That is very nice from him. I love you, Vinnie!